Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a priorable misdemeanor in California. As well as the potential for a misdemeanor conviction, the DMV can also take action and suspend your driver’s license from three months to one year depending on the driver’s age and whether or not a chemical test was refused.
Kate Hardie has handled hundreds of DUIs and won many at trial. Whether it is alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, or other drugs, Kate has the experience to aggressively defend these cases and protect your driver’s license. She is also able to handle DMV hearings and writ of mandamus petitions flowing from the loss of a DMV hearing.
When facing a highly inflammatory charge such as rape, lewd conduct, child molestation or possession of child pornography, there are many things to consider. You want an aggressive attorney with experience in various sex crimes because the consequences are dire. Being convicted of a sex offense can often carry lifetime registration as a sex offender which can affect your employment, child custody rights, living situation and many other facets of your life. Kate has handled sex charges from the simple lewd conduct, prostitution, or misdemeanor annoy and molest a child, through serious felonies such as assault to commit rape during the commission of a residential burglary, which can carry a life sentence. When you are facing something such as Penal Code Section 290 registration as a sex offender, you want someone with experience in trying crimes like these and experience in avoiding registration.
Possession of a firearm can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Once you have been convicted of a felony, you are barred from owning firearms for the rest of your life. Facing a charge like this, whether you have a record or not, can involve serious consequences. Gun laws in California are strict and there are many enhancements available to the prosecution such as a gang allegation that can turn a simple misdemeanor gun possession into a felony strike with up to 7 years in prison at stake.
If a firearm is used in a robbery, it can add ten years to the sentence. If a firearm is discharged during the commission of a felony, often one will be facing a life sentence. Kate Hardie has handled hundreds of gun cases. In one murder case where her client was accused of shooting the victim at close range in the chest with a shotgun, Kate was able to negotiate a two year prison sentence based on the affirmative defense she put together for her client. This case involved the use of a firearms expert and forensic crime scene analysts. She was also able to obtain a dismissal in a murder case involving a firearm and dismissal of an attempted murder charge in a gang shooting case where her client was a third striker. Instead of facing life, this client was able to plead to a simple gun possession charge after Kate’s pretrial written motion convinced the Judge to dismiss the attempted murder charge. Kate was also able to settle, on the eve of trial, two gang related shootings for single digit prison terms: 5 and 9 years, respectively.
Guns are serious, especially if you are accused of a crime where one was discharged. But with a full exploration of all defenses and solid, experienced representation, they do not always result in lengthy prison sentences.
California’s Three Strikes law has luckily undergone drastic change in the past few years. People are no longer sentenced to 25-life prison terms for simple possession of drugs or shoplifting when they have two prior strike convictions. Despite the legal changes, someone can still get a life sentence when they are facing their third strike offense and that offense is serious or violent. Those charges include residential burglary, robbery, rape, assault with a deadly weapon, any felony with a gang allegation admitted, and many other violent crimes or crimes that involve injury. As well as being able to negotiate the prosecution off of a life sentence, Kate can successfully help you avoid getting those strikes in the first place. Strikes stay on your record for the rest of your life when it comes to using them to enhance sentences. You can expunge a felony, but the court and prosecution can still use that expunged strike against you if you pick up another felony offense. Prior strikes can double a prison sentence and make you ineligible for probation. They are not to be taken lightly. The strike law is retroactive, meaning, if you were convicted of an offense in the 1980’s that did not become a strike until the 1990’s, it can still be used to enhance that sentence.
A Romero motion is an effective tool for getting strikes kicked in order to receive a lesser sentence. The Law Offices of Kate Hardie has been successful in using this tool to get as many as four prior strikes kicked so that a client could complete a drug program instead of going to state prison.
In addition to handling many third strike cases, Kate Hardie has also secured the release of an individual who was serving life under California Three Strikes law through a writ of habeas corpus. He was released from prison after 14 years of a 25-life sentence in California and is now enjoying his time with his family in Puerto Rico.
Simple drug possession and drug sales convictions can get in the way of employment, immigration and financial aid for schooling. Depending on the drug one is charged with possessing, straight possession can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. In either case, if someone has no record, there are often options to avoid conviction through diversion or what is known as “Deferred Entry of Judgment” under California Penal Code Section 1000. Even if one is eligible for some sort of diversion, immigration consequences must be taken into consideration if one is not a US Citizen. Drug offenses can negatively impact an application for residency, work permit or citizenship.
When it comes to drug sales and transportation charges, the stakes are often higher because the sales or transportation part usually renders an individual ineligible for treatment instead of incarceration. Sales charges are also priorable when they involve drugs other than marijuana. That means that if you are charged with sale of cocaine and you have a prior sale conviction for cocaine or another drug, three years will be added to your maximum sentence for each prior sales conviction. In addition to enhancing a future sales case, conviction of a sales offense will make an individual ineligible for government financial aid for school. If further education is in your future, a sales or transportation charge is a fairly daunting roadblock.
In order to be charged with something that qualifies as a sales prior, one need not be observed selling a drug. Other charges often qualify. Transportation, such as Health and Safety Code Section 11352(a), is a catchall felony carrying up to 5 years in prison to be served in county jail under AB-109 realignment. This charge can be any of the following behavior: Sale of, offer to sell, giving away, furnishing or transporting any drug it includes such as cocaine, cocaine base, heroin, and other prescription drugs. Often simple possession cases can be charged as transportation making one ineligible for the many diversion and drug court opportunities that California Penal Code allows for. It is important to know all of your options when charged with a drug offense in California.
Violent crimes can consist of anything from a fist fight to a murder. When a felony is considered violent, it often means harsher sentences and a strike prior. If facing a violent offense, the stakes are pretty high. For a simple misdemeanor fight, a battery could affect job prospects, child custody or immigration. Once a violent crime is charged as a felony, there is much more to consider such as strike priors and even prison time.
Kate Hardie has handled many cases involving allegations of violence and has successfully litigated cases with claims of self-defense even when there was substantial injury including a broken nose or even stab wounds. California law allows for a claim of self-defense whether a simple battery or even as a justification for homicide.
When it comes to homicide cases, there are multiple mental defenses and self-defense claims that can mitigate if they do not entirely justify the act. Often when the prosecution charges a homicide as first degree murder, there are avenues to take when you don’t have the fortune of claiming, “It wasn’t me.” Kate Hardie has experience using the defense of not guilty by reason of insanity successfully. She has also handled negotiating a first degree murder- a shooting- down to an involuntary manslaughter based on a combined claim of self-defense and accident. This resulted in one year of incarceration instead of a lifetime.
Sometimes a claim of self-defense is not fully valid but an imperfect self-defense claim can be utilized to reduce a first degree premeditated murder to a voluntary manslaughter. If someone falsely believed they had the need to defend themselves and committed a homicide, a voluntary manslaughter without a firearm carries a sentences of 5, 7 or 9 years instead of an indeterminate life sentence that comes with murder.
In addition to homicides, Ms. Hardie has handled multiple attempted murders, gang shootings, robberies and rapes. She has successfully used eye witness identification experts to obtain acquittals and dismissals on a “wrong person” defense in a robbery case, a kidnapping case and an attempted murder shooting.
Assault with a deadly weapon is a charge that is a strike and can carry a very harsh sentence if great bodily injury results. Kate Hardie has handled assault cases where the weapons were a machete, a pot of boiling rice, a firearm, teeth, an acrylic “dancing” heel and many more.
Kate Hardie is also well versed in child abuse cases and has handled all from misdemeanor child endangerment to felony child abuse involving great bodily injury. She also handled a homicide that carried the charge of felony child abuse resulting in death which is another way the prosecution can attempt to get a life sentence where a child dies but intent to kill cannot be proven.
Ms. Hardie has handled many other violent crime cases that are described under domestic violence and sex crimes sections.
If you have an action pending on your driver’s license due to a DUI arrest or other traffic matter, it is important to take action to avoid a suspended license or mitigate the damage. Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor and caries a criminal penalty as well as unwanted DMV points. The Law Offices of Kate Hardie is experienced in handling administrative per se hearings at the Department of Motor Vehicles as well as filing writs of habeas corpus in civil court in order to get relief from bad rulings by DMV officers at administrative hearings.
Sometimes cases can be stopped before they are ever filed or the damage can be mitigated with the right representation in order to prevent filing or allow for filing at a lower level. When police reports are prepared, often an investigating officer is assigned before the case is submitted to the prosecuting agency for filing charges. Intercepting a case before it is filed is possible and definitely preferable if it can be done. If you are interested in pre-filing investigation it is important to act immediately as this is a time sensitive situation. In certain cases witness statements can be provided to the officers and other information can be drawn to their attention suggesting the case is not what it seemed at the initial police response. It is important that you have representation and not attempt to discuss your situation with officers alone. You have the right to remain silent which absolutely means one thing- use that right! Law enforcement is allowed to lie to you in order to obtain a statement. They often record these statements and also attempt to entice individuals with false promises. They are NOT your friends if you are the subject of their investigation. Remember that and ask for a lawyer at all times.
Theft includes petty theft, grand theft, embezzlement, check washing, unauthorized use of others credit cards, commercial burglary, using a motor vehicle without permission and many other things. Petty thefts of smaller amounts often result in a misdemeanor for a first timer, but with the right mitigation and representation, can often be settled for a less burdensome infraction or even diversion to keep a clean record. Once you begin to accumulate theft priors, it gets much more punitive. In California, three prior theft offenses of any sort qualifies an individual for felony petty theft with a prior where prison is a possibility. Theft is also a crime of moral turpitude for immigration purposes and is a huge red flag to a potential employer.
California case law also allows some simple petty thefts to be elevated to robberies in certain circumstances. This is commonly called an “Estes Robbery” after the People v. Estes case that began this trend. If someone is stopped by security when leaving with store property and they use force to get away or attempt to get away, this counts as the force necessary for a robbery. Simple theft of a bottle of shampoo has been elevated to a robbery, which is a violent strike requiring one serve 85% time simply because an individual fought the store employee or security guard on the way out. District Attorneys often file these robbery charges when possible because it helps strong-arm a plea agreement. Depending on the facts of the case and the mitigation prepared whether on personal background or mental health or other factors, the prosecution can sometimes be talked out of pursuing a strike conviction in these cases. It is always wise to avoid a strike. Pleading to an Estes type of robbery will have very serious negative consequences on one’s future.
In the age of the internet, identity theft, credit card fraud and other paper crimes have created many new types of theft charges. Rental car companies often file theft claims if a consumer keeps a car longer than the contract or if a credit card is declined. This case is filed just the same as it would be if someone got in a car parked on the street, hot-wired, and drove away. It can also be used as a prior in elevating a future theft to a felony.
Burglary is a theft charge that requires prior intent. A residential burglary is a strike- entering a home or dwelling with the intent to commit theft or a felony. Any building is considered residential if someone lives there and can include a garage that is connected to an apartment building or house. A commercial burglary is not a strike. This crime would include stealing from a store or business where the individual entered the business with the intent to commit theft. A commercial burglary can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on priors and the severity of the crime or value of the property. While regular first degree burglary of a home is a strike, it is not violent so half time is served. However, if someone is home during a residential burglary, the prosecution will add an allegation known as the “person present allegation.” This makes the strike a violent strike requiring a prison sentence of 85% of the term.
So possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is no longer a misdemeanor like it used to be. It is only an infraction with a maximum of a $100 fine. Officers typically won’t even cite people for simple possession anymore, but marijuana law is still a complicated and changing body of law in California and people are still charged with felony transportation of marijuana on a regular basis even when it involves less than an ounce. Even if you have a recommendation, it is still a felony to give your stash to someone else, sell it to someone else or redistribute it in any way. The laws on growing marijuana are also complicated and ever changing. The Law Offices of Kate Hardie has handled the following marijuana related felony arrests in the last year:
• Felony transportation of marijuana settled for misdemeanor possession of concentrated cannabis:
An individual was arrested in late December for having about 100 nicklebags of marijuana in his trunk despite having a prescription. Unfortunately, he was honest with officers when he indicated he just planned to put it in a piñata at his New Year’s Party. This is not legal- it is an intent to distribute.
• Felony Sales of Marijuana to an Undercover Officer settled for a $100 infraction ticket, fine suspended:
An individual was seated in the back seat of a car with his friends after purchasing marijuana at a dispensary. An undercover cop dressed as a homeless person asked for $5 of marijuana and the individual sprinkled some in her hand. Another individual in the car took the $5 from her. Both were charged with sales as a felony. You cannot sell your prescription weed. But if you do get caught, don’t immediately settle for a felony!
• Felony transportation of marijuana dismissed at suppression motion:
A young man and his friend were driving around with marijuana in various bags and pill containers and a scale in the trunk. These items were found during a police search after a traffic stop for no signal and loud music. The judge found this search exceeded the Constitutional scope of the stop and suppressed all evidence found in the trunk and the case was thrown out. Police commit unlawful searches on a daily basis. Sometimes this can be shown through a thorough workup and investigation and dismissed at a suppression hearing. Every case is different, but you should always seek advice on whether or not your police contact was lawful and don’t grant permission to search if you have illegal items in your car or home.
California Domestic Violence laws are strict and police officers are ordered to make an arrest if violence is reported despite the desire of the parties involved. Often individuals call the police to get the other party to leave and someone ends up going to jail. Domestic violence charges can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the seriousness of the alleged injuries and whether or not the arrestee has prior convictions for anything on his or her record. Domestic violence convictions can affect immigration consequences, employment and child custody cases. Because the prosecution often follows through on domestic violence charges even when the complaining party wants them dropped, it is important to retain counsel who has experience in handling domestic violence cases both through trial and to settlement. It is also important to start investigation and preparation early in your case so that the complaining party can be impeached and confronted properly at trial.
A simple unwanted touching- a battery- is a special charge when it occurs between two people in a marriage, dating relationship, former dating relationship, cohabitants and those with a child together or prior relationship. This simple battery is a misdemeanor. One year of domestic violence classes are required with a plea to a domestic battery. They are costly and time consuming. If there is injury the charge is different. It is called “corporal injury to a spouse/cohabitant/child’s parent/significant other under California Penal Code Section 273.5(a).” This charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony, commonly known as a “wobbler.” If a first time offense or the injuries are minimal, a misdemeanor is usually charged. If you have priors, especially of a violent nature, the future charge is often as a felony and can carry a prison sentence.
Other charges that commonly arise in domestic situations are Penal Code Section 422- criminal threats- which is a strike as a felony but can be a misdemeanor. In heated situations people often say things that they don’t always mean. But a threat to kill your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, baby mom, etc. is a criminal threat if she or he believes you and is in fear.
Other charges that also arise are assault with a deadly weapon, assault by means likely to cause great bodily harm and false imprisonment. These charges are also wobblers- they can be either misdemeanors or felonies depending on the severity.
Fraud charges generally fall under different categories of theft and perjury but become more complicated when they involve lots of paper work such as in mortgage or welfare fraud cases. Kate has handled fraud cases ranging from perjured documents to receive home health worker pay, welfare fraud, embezzlement from a non-profit agency by an employee, elder financial abuse, real estate fraud and operating a business without proper licensing. Fraud, embezzlement and perjury charges reflect upon moral character and can be crushing for future employment and professional licensing.
If you are charged with a financial crime such as grand theft, embezzlement, forgery, perjury, or other fraud charge, you should retain counsel early and attempt to mitigate with the help of an attorney as soon as possible. You do not want to give a statement without first consulting with an attorney and police and other investigative agencies always attempt to get a statement from the accused early on to help build their case. Welfare agencies often seek to get a signature from the individual admitting to wrong doing with the idea they will just take the money back over time and not seek action. This often is not the case and the signature admitting wrong doing is later used in criminal prosecution.